WASHINGTON -- Young Americans are deeply pessimistic about the state of race relations and divided along racial lines over what to do about the problem, a new survey shows.
The survey, conducted for People for the American Way, a liberal civil rights group based here, found that 50 percent of American young people interviewed said the state of race relations in the United States were "generally bad."
It also found that youths of different races disagreed greatly on issues like affirmative action.
The survey, which was to be released today, was conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates among a nationwide sampling of 15- to 24-year-olds between Oct. 8 and 21.
Of the 1,170 youths questioned, 143 blacks, 709 whites, 122 Hispanic youths and 44 "others," including Asians, were surveyed. In addition, 152 black youths from mostly black neighborhoods were surveyed to improve accuracy. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
Most of the youths surveyed shared a pessimistic view of the country's future: 54 percent said they felt America's best years had passed, while only 37 percent said they thought the best lay ahead.
Other than this bleak outlook, the survey found little agreement, especially on economic matters.
The survey found that different perceptions of racial issues among white, black and Hispanic youths surfaced most when they were asked about affirmative action.
When asked if colleges should give "special consideration to minority students" for enrollment, 51 percent of the young whites surveyed said they were opposed.
When asked if employers should give "special consideration to minority job applicants," 65 percent of the whites said they were opposed.
The opposition shot up further, to 64 percent over college applications and 78 percent for jobs, when the term "special preference" was substituted for "special consideration."
When asked the same questions, 74 percent of black and 57 percent of Hispanic respondents endorsed "special consideration to minority students" by colleges.
Likewise, 60 percent of young blacks said they supported special consideration for minorities in hiring; Hispanic youths were equally divided on the issue.
As it did for white respondents, both black and Hispanic support for special consideration by colleges and employers dropped when the word "preference" replaced "consideration."